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Should we show graphic images of abortions to young women and men?

But should teenagers be shown graphic images of abortion as a means of informing them about the reality of the procedure? That’s the question more and more school boards may have to ask themselves as some anti-abortion groups set up shop near high schools in Canada (currently some groups employ this tactic on university campuses).

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Mark Alberhasky, Getty Images

Abortion is not an issue that will ever go gently into that good night—that’s a good thing. Like capital punishment and euthanasia, it’s not the kind of question that can or will ever be answered simply by a yes or no, no matter what extremists on either side of the debate want us to believe.   

But should teenagers be shown graphic images of abortion as a means of informing them about the reality of the procedure? That’s the question more and more school boards may have to ask themselves as some anti-abortion groups set up shop near high schools in Canada (currently some groups employ this tactic on university campuses. 

According to an article in the National Post, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform in Calgary has set up “rolling demonstrations” in front of area high schools in which they use images of aborted fetuses to educate students. The images, which are of first-trimester abortions, are placed next to the word “choice.”  

Bio-Ethical Reform executive director Stephanie Gray tells the Post that the association is intentional. Said Gray: “The idea is to redefine the term ‘choice’ from what is seen as a positive term to one that is a negative act that kills a child.”   

Gray adds that while the images have upset some students they’ve also initiated discussions about abortion among the teens.    

Not surprisingly the tactic is proving controversial on both sides of the debate. Though oddly enough it’s brought a few pro-choice and pro-life groups together in jointly condemning the use of the images as extremist and potentially off-putting. But there are some on the pro-life side who feel the images are valuable.  

Andrea Mrozek, of the Ottawa-based group Pro Woman Pro Life, tells the Post that the images should be shown. Says Mrozek: “Abortion is very hidden and concealed in our culture and [this tactic] brings it out into the open in a way that can’t be avoided. I think that’s very important.” 

Pro-life and pro-choice advocates can debate the merits of using graphic images and slogans to sway people either way—both use propaganda as a means of simplifying the issue to the point of absurdity. Images and pamphlets aside, the heart of the issue seems to lie with the struggle to square the right of abortion with its complex reality, a reality which must include a variety of interpretations from women who choose to have them and women who don’t. What that looks like remains to be seen. 

Do you think teenagers should be shown graphic images of abortion as a means of informing them about the realities of the procedure? Please share your thoughts here.